Battle of the Somme - the plan
- Allies - Britain, France and Russia decided to launch a co-ordinated attack against the Germans in an attempt to break the stalemate.
- The Britsh Army had 2.5 million men and was under the command of General Haig, who could plan an attack of a massive scale.
- The Germans had attacked th Frech at Verdun which meant that the attack was to be mostly British.
- The German trenches were bombarded for a week before the main attack, under the assumption that the German trenches and the barbed wire protecting them would then be destroyed.
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The Battle of the Somme - Day 1
July 1st 1916 -
- a huge British infantry attack was launched.
- Soldiers were ordered to march at a walking pace (to prevent panic) and were protected by a creeping barrage.
Events didn't go to plan -
- single worst day in British military history. The Allies suffered:
- 57,000 casualties
- 19,000 deaths
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The Battle of the Somme - problems
- Many of the explosives that they'd used to bombard the German trenches were duds.
- German trenches were very deep and well-constructed, so most were not destroyed. German soldiers were able to shelter from the bombardment.
- Much of the barbed wire remained intact.
- The creeping barrage had some success although it lacked precision.
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The Battle of the Somme - the rest of the battle
- Continued until November 1916.
- Germans eventually withdrew from the area.
- No major breakthrough was acheived.
- Overall casualties = 1.2 million.
- British casualties were twice that of the Germans.
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The Battle of the Somme controversy and General Ha
- General Haig's reputation was damaged.
- He devised the battle plan.
- Haig has been called the 'Butcher of the Somme' for sending wave after wave of soldiers into the battle for no purpose.
- His tactics were standard for the time.
- The Somme contributed to the war of attrition that as to ultimately grind the German army down.
- The length of the campaign at the Somme, the high level of casualties and the lack of decisive result have contributed to the widely held view that the first world war was a war of cruel futility.
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